The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority on Wednesday unveiled a new long-term plan for MidTown to help foster the ongoing redevelopment of the area.
The plan, which would have to first be approved by the Oklahoma City Council, would allow Urban Renewal to enter in to participation agreements with Midtown property owners that would encourage them to redevelop their property.
The plan would also allow Urban Renewal to acquire blighted properties from owners and historic buildings in danger of being lost, or land that is necessary for public use.
However, Urban Renewal will try in MidTown to move away from its past strategy of acquiring real estate and then soliciting proposals to redevelop the property to private developers, said Leslie Batchelor, general counsel for authority.
“We don't always have to acquire the property. We can help and encourage property owners by giving them incentives and support,” Batchelor said.
The participation agreements would require property owners to redevelop their property in MidTown in ways that will be beneficial to the neighborhood. While new residential and retail development have begun to revitalize many parts of MidTown over the past few years, there are still pockets of vacant and blighted properties that the authority hopes to combat.
Urban Renewal commissioned Oklahoma City-based Butzer Gardner Architects for a new MidTown plan. The draft plan includes narrowing MidTown streets in favor of angled parking in the area to combat some of the area's ongoing issues with a lack of parking, and also includes suggestions for a planned streetcar route through the area.
The draft plan also targets 23 blighted or vacant areas in the MidTown area termed critical for the area' redevelopment. While the key areas, identified in the plan as “Catalytic Sites,” are scattered throughout MidTown, they are predominantly centered around vacant lots in the area around St. Anthony Hospital's MidTown Campus.
“We feel that these sites in particular are sites that will act as a catalyst for further development once something happens there,” said Asa Highsmith, project manager for Butzer Gardner who presented the plan to the authority.
Urban Renewal is expected to vote on the MidTown plan in July before sending it to the Oklahoma City Planning Commission and City Council for final approval.
A draft of the MidTown redevelopment plan is expected to be posted on the authority's website later this week at www.ocura-ok.org for the public to view and to provide feedback.